A final bow for The Soraya’s resident ballet company
Even as light emerges at the end of the tunnel, the struggle to stand up the arts sector, post-pandemic, is merely beginning. Resilient arts organizations will heed the call to adapt and innovate, and I’m glad to share that one of our partner organizations is doing just that—the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet announced this week that it will deploy both its leadership and endowment to support the dance field generally, as theaters slowly re-open and a new normal emerges. This is an admirable undertaking. However, it’s a good news/bad news announcement—they are also discontinuing their performance company after 25 years.
As the resident company of The Soraya, it’s hard to take this news without getting a big lump in my throat. Their dancers brought unmatched grace and power to our stage for the past five seasons. I chose Aspen Santa Fe Ballet to be our resident dance company for a number of reasons. Not only was the breadth and excellence of their work at the forefront of the decision, but also the fact that they were one of the only companies of their size to employ dancers 52 weeks per year. That is something I wanted to support, and you made that possible with your support. I know how much the company loved being at The Soraya.
Their residency culminated last season, December 2019, with their production of The Nutcracker. The audience response was overwhelming, and a tradition was born…or so we believed. That would be their last performance on our stage, and among the last performances the veteran company would give. Producing and presenting The Nutcracker is a big task for any organization. I had waited a few years into my tenure to commit to one, in part to build our organizational capacity and separately to be certain we could bring one to our audience that was world-class.
Some of you became Aspen Santa Fe Ballet “groupies,” and others may have caught just a glimpse, maybe at last year’s Nutcracker. Even if you missed them entirely, please take a moment for our tribute to the company’s tenure here in Los Angeles (click here). You’ll find a slideshow of photographs taken at The Soraya and an article written by esteemed dance critic Debra Levine. Debra attended each of the performances of the company at The Soraya, and has been writing about them for years. She poignantly captures a slice of Soraya history.
A Tribute to Aspen Santa Fe Ballet
By Debra Levine
It was a gem of a dance company: a sleek, risk-taking, youthful, uber-trained crew of mega-movers. Anna Kisselgoff, writing in The New York Times, called them “A breath of fresh air!” Starting in 1996, the Aspen-based troupe, with Santa Fe as a treasured sister city, took hold in a rough-and-tumble region of the U.S. more habituated to ski boots and cowboy boots than a dancer’s humble bare feet or pointe shoes. But amidst the outdoorsy environs, a sensitive, artful, and resilient boutique ballet company with a verve for edgy contemporary work came to prosper.